OUT OF ESSEX – Chapter 17
When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.
When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.
Tao Te Ching
Mary Fawkes gently pulled the sheet, quilt cover and pillowcases off the bed. How could that just have happened? Dan was 53. She was two years younger.
Opening the curtains, she was hit by the tapestry of roses blooming up and down the suburban front gardens. Oranges, reds, purples and creams. Dan should have been exhausted. Instead he was already outside in the early July sunshine, whistling, loading the caravan, in which they would spend the next month. Then back to Chelmsford with Rose and Edward for a fortnight. After that, it was unscheduled, to be made up as they went along.
Dan had been bubbling for weeks: cracking jokes, acting like he was 24, when they first met.
The financial weight lifted from them was one factor. Each daily check of the joint bank account indicated that they might never have to worry about money again. Clifford, bless him, had seen to that, in his hard-fisted negotiations over the royalties from Dan’s video, and the rights to his story. It also meant that Dan could invest, if that was the word, his currently plentiful spare income in the Southend park experiment. Whatever that might turn out to be.
In search of ingredients, they had met up with Micky Gaze again, two days ago. The sight of the Crooked Billet made Mary tremble, memories rushing back. She heard Russian and Chinese accents in the public bar. It was the oddest thing, unfair somehow, how tourists now flocked to the much-celebrated ‘intactness’ of old Leigh. While much of Southend groaned under the herculean task of reconstructing miles of wrecked seafront buildings.
Micky was still a stranger, so they had knocked back the double Bowmores to help leapfrog the conversational uncertainties. Bending themselves back into 12 May spirits. “Let’s refer to you-know-who as Sal” said Dan, looking furtively around the crowded bar. “Where did you first meet him Micky?”
“Down at the casino, a couple of years ago. He’d been looking at me for a couple of minutes, by one of the roulette tables. Then he asked to borrow two quid. He was so bloody tall, and intimidating. So I said yes, to get rid of him. Then I watched him place it on black ten times in a row. Matching his clothes. Every time putting it all back on, and winning.”
Mary worked it out. Over £2,000. “So that was……his ATM while he was here? A roulette table?”
“He paid me back £200 for the £2 loan. That night they actually banned him from playing again. He said it was the fourth time he’d taken two grand from them. He asked for my mobile number. After that, I was his ATM, for each visit. Seems I just got paid back.”
“How the hell did we end up in this story?” asked Dan. “Do we get to meet God in the last chapter?”
Ex-fireman Micky didn’t know. But he oozed practicality. He told them he had built parts of his own house. He could wire and plumb. Sort out car engines. Heating systems.
He was pleased as punch that a guy named Dave Dawson had been in touch. “This bloke badly wanted to know who the park’s new owner was. His house overlooks the place. I dunno if he’s mad or can see into the bloody future. But he reckons he’s known for years that some sort of apocalypse was coming. He’s stored up a seed bank, and other survival stuff. Somehow, he seems just right for what we’re doing. So I told him all about the project. I mean everything. And he wants in.”
Micky said they had met up, down at the Railway Hotel in central Southend. “He’s a local, lived in Southchurch all his life. We’re gonna need every bit of help that’s out there.”
Mick shook his head, grinning. “And he’s only gone and told me that the real King of England was some elderly geezer living in Australia. Remember that historian Tony Robinson?”
“He played Baldric in Blackadder!” recalled Mary.
“That’s the bloke. Well funny. Anyway, Dave swore blind that Tony Robinson proved in 2004, in one of his history programmes, that the current bunch on the British throne are illegitimate. ‘Pretenders’, he called them.”
Mary had watched Dan light up at that, and almost everything else Micky mentioned. The joint responsibility for the “moneyless” park’s finances; helping its unknown incomers bed in; and the serious physical work to be done.
“I’ve been half-killing myself, Mick, doing other people’s work, for much too long,” Dan sighed. “I never knew that this was coming, or that I would want it so much.”
Mary’s brain was seething, dancing, pirouetting around the mind-shattering fact that Gandhi and the Buddha would be active again, living amongst them, according to Micky. With Satan as their ‘minder’! However hard she pinched herself, their lives kept turning somersaults, flipping into deeper unknowns.
Best of all was how her husband was such a joy to be with again. What they had just experienced was wild and surely impossible. He had taken her up against the bedroom wall.
Then pulled her down to the floor, remarking on her wetness, before releasing a second spurt. “Jesus Dan, it’s like I’m thirty years younger – I’ve got a bloody wide on,” she moaned.
Twenty minutes later, another climax together, using their mouths. She had described it as “the fuck of the century”, laying in his arms, still adrift in pleasure.
“Have you taken a pill?” she laughed.
“Not yet,” he said, still panting, kissing her throat. “Hopefully not ever.” He was straight about that kind of stuff. But never that straight, and for that long.
“We nearly died on May 12,” he whispered. The tsunami still towered in her dreams, the wave surging up the hill towards them with a power that took away the breath. Like yesterday, she remembered Dan’s reassurance. “It won’t reach us.” And holding her so tightly that she could not run.
He tickled her armpit, looking in her eyes. “It’s all a bonus from now on. And someone has put a new battery in me, Mary Fawkes. Charged me up with joy.”
And here they were, packed and ready to go. The house was tidy. Her boss at the London university had agreed to an ultra-flexible working schedule over the remainder of the year. “Don’t forget about us Mary. You’re my brightest researcher.”
Rose was a little worried about looking after Ed, who was 14. Mary felt her daughter was engaging in a silent trade: the washing and cooking, for the use of the house with her college friends and boyfriends.
Her note kept it simple. “Just call me whenever you need, darling. We can drive back in less than an hour. You’ve got money. We love you.”
She was a mum though. Thoughts of what could go wrong assailed her as they drove south-east down the A120, towards Rettendon Turnpike, in the afternoon brightness. Would Rose be aware if Ed didn’t come home, if she was otherwise engaged with her friends? Would they eat properly? What if they forget to turn off the gas cooker?
“Dan, what will happen to them if we never come back?”
12 thoughts on “226. Letting go”
Laugh of the day: “He was straight about that kind of stuff. But never that straight, and for that long.”
I think everyone’s marriage could use a little shaking up like Mary and Dan–maybe minus a giant tsunami–but definitely with Gandhi and Buddha and Satan involved somehow.
Interesting quote: When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.
When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.
Tao Te Ching — 6th century BC
I looked up when Buddha was around practicing, and they have a WIDE window they’re guessing at–
between the 6th and 4th centuries BC.
But if one puts two and two together here–Tao Te Ching voicing the exact sentiments that Buddha eventually arrived at–it seems like the 6th century BC was hopping, and it’s apparent, to me at least, that they must have been alive around the same time.
Unless, of course, Buddha was earlier and then there was a resurgence of Buddhist thought 200 years later, which often happened/happens with philosophies, fashion, and linguistics.
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I like it very much ….marriage stimulation, with a cast of gurus.
I reckon you have a very inquisitive mind Stace. I wonder what Asia was like at the time. Was it the usual hierarchic human structures, but somehow accepted and relatively harmonious due the the intrinsic honour, wisdom and cultural integration? Can’t imagine that anyone will later speculate in such a way about the bunfight that is 2019!
Btw, for which publication (s) do you provide captions?
Thanks for the feedback, and for giving me a chunk of spotlight in your own comments section. IBuilding upa readership is a long process. All help much appreciated.
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Yeah, it’s tough. I think I was writing for almost two years with two followers before I started attracting attention a little at a time. It’s also hard to keep up with everyone’s stuff and I’m trying to find a more efficient way to do that.
I’m enjoying your book a lot and think it should be out there making other people laugh and enlightening them and all that. I didn’t know what “bunfight” was and looked it up. See? My brain grew a millimeter more after that.
I’d like to know more about your book. If you get a moment.
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Thank you, Kevin, I greatly appreciate it. I’ll just say it’s a paranormal comedy/satire concerning vampires vs. aliens in which at least one alien is trying to “become a real boy”, and although I do address ageism and being in the moment and most definitely racism, overall it’s just chick lit, and I’d be remiss in my duties as the worst marketer on earth if I didn’t say I never pitch it to guys. It, of course, is the opposite of your intellectually stimulating novel, even though I think we do need “fluff” in order to decompress, but I’ll just leave it at that, lol !!!
The second one’s going into first edits next month and I have two more planned but will be about 102, it seems, by the time I write them and my publisher gets around to them. But thanks for asking………! 🙂 🙂
Wow! That’s impressive. Do you pitch it elsewhere, on a dedicated site? I need to begin thinking tactics…and other authors have trodden the path. Do you write for love, or the hope of money and/or recognition? Is it self-published? If so, how about the questions of e-book (cheaper) vs paperback. There must be a significant outlay for the latter?
Again, if you get a moment 🙂
Whoops – looked harder and seen that you have a publisher. That’s brilliant!
It’s a very small publisher, but I’m EXTREMELY thankful since I’m a Luddite at heart and it also is not cheap to self-publish. I have a friend who does her own, and out of pocket (US dollars) it ends up being $500 minimum and upwards for expenses.
I have a “page” for it on my blog (called Day for Night), an author page on FB, the cover USED to be on Twitter but seems to have disappeared when Twitter up and revamped the layout out of nowhere, an author page on Amazon, and author stuff on GoodReads. This was all suggested by the publisher in a “launch” package. I’ve done as much as possible but have fallen off with marketing, which involved getting featured on Book Bub and other book sites like that (for free, generally) and seeking out reviewers, which is painfully time-consuming. There are other ways, too, which I’m not thinking of, but I can always find them and tell you about them later. You follow Widdershins, right? She’s self-published, if you decide to go that way; you could maybe get some inside scoop from her later too.
I think e-book is generally the first way to go but try to have a POD option available at least: print on demand. I have no idea what the cost of printing a book would be! Egads.
I actually did write this book hoping to make a little $$ to help out the household AND so my father would have a little something to brag about before he sheds the mortal coil. He’s always been supportive of my writing, but apart from some short stories I’ve had published, you know, nothing really big. So I think the book did make him happy and maybe feel like, in some part of himself, that it wasn’t completely useless having children, lol. I did write a memoir about him that made it onto a website somewhere, and I know that made him happy, because he’s achieved a lot for a black man in America, especially someone born in the ’20s, with the usual rickety, unsupportive family history. I think I just made that word up, but oh, well….
1. it was fun,
3. for dad.
Sometimes the order changes. It may seem sad that Dad’s number 3, but it is a little late to be trying to win his approval (which I already have anyway) so it was just a kind of cherry on top thing.
Big thank you for all of that Stace. I’m looking at all the options…but you cant beat hands-on experience. Plan is to finish OOE, but to look at marketing/publishing en route.
Was having a drink with a pal last night, who reckoned that the potential audience is huge as everyone needs, or has opinions about, money. ☺☺
PS: Was I talking to you about my book at some point? I just realized I didn’t know how you knew about it. Did I say something? lol
Pretty sure it was mentioned or advertised on the page that hosted the discussion on UFOs. Cant be sure.
Hmm…interesting. Not sure it was on the page, but the title has its own page, maybe got clicked into by accident…
Anyway, on to the next chapter…………! 🙂